|War and History Script posted June 19, 2015||Chapters:||...5 6 -7- 8...|
Two guests, one paying, one hidden
A chapter in the book The Kinsman
Two Guests at the Inn
Act Two, Part One
The Kinsman is an historical stage play of the American Revolution, set in 1779, in the village of Stillwater, New Jersey. We are in the Inn and home of a prosperous German miller, Casper Schaeffer. He is due back from the state legislature. His young granddaughter has hidden a surprise for him in the storeroom.
This historical drama is based on true events and actual people. The author has taken liberties with how events played out.
The set remains the same and there has been no loss of time. As the lights come up, Peter Gruber moves a few steps out of the storeroom and stands there. Pauline has put her arm around Anna’s shoulders protectively.
Peter is in his early twenties, with short blond hair and is good looking, but in a frail way. He is haggard and tired and is dressed in plain grey wood trousers and shirt. They are tied at the waist with a rope and contain no buttons or adornments. His feet have the remains of rags tied about them.
It is gradually growing dark outside.
Peter: (In English with a German accent.) I mean you no harm. You don’t have to be afraid.
Pauline: You’re . . . you’re a Hessian.
Pauline: (Trying to be firm.) You don’t belong here. You must go.
Peter: I have nowhere to go.
Perhaps like you.
Pauline: You’ve been listening – to everything we said!
Peter: Ya. Most.
Anna: (Moving away from Pauline toward Peter.) Are you the enemy? Like the wolf?
Peter: (Gently.) No, Anna. The wolf might hurt you. I would not.
Pauline: (Pulling her back.) Anna! Don’t go near him!
Anna: (Hesitantly, to Peter.) Are you still my friend?
Peter: Yes, Anna. I’m still your friend.
Elizabeth: (Outside, to Isaac.) Is everything all right?
Isaac: (Outside.) Yes.
Peter: (Quickly retreating to the storeroom.) I am still your friend, Anna.
(Pauline moves to the door at the sound of Elizabeth’s voice. Anna follows, tugging at her dress.)
Anna: (Pleading.) Remember . . . . .like a little present. (She turns and rushes back to her position in the corner, leaving Pauline completely bewildered. Pauline retreats to the left of the fireplace, as if looking for a place to hide. Elizabeth enters, with Alexander in her arms, talking to Isaac over her shoulder.)
Elizabeth: Did you kill the wolf?
Isaac: (Following her.) Yes, Father hit him. With one shot.
Elizabeth: (Not yet aware of the others.) Did you have to track him far?
Isaac: No, Father just sat behind a rock beside the path to the spring. He said “Sometimes you don’t have to hunt the enemy, he’ll find you.”
(As he crosses to replace the musket he sees Pauline)
(Just then the sound of a horse and rider reining up, can be heard. As Elizabeth crosses to the window to see who it is, Anna turns quickly.)
Anna: (Blurting out.) I’m sorry I wasn’t nice to you, Mother. (She turns and dashes out.)
(Elizabeth starts to say something to her but her attention is taken by the man outside.)
James: (Outside.) Is anyone about? Is this an inn or isn’t it?
Elizabeth: (Rushing to the window.) Oh! A customer! Where’s your father?
Isaac: (Jolted from his trance.) Oh . . ah. . he stopped off at the mill.
Elizabeth: Whoever that is out there, see if you can help them. I’ll try and tidy up. I wish Catherine were here.
(Isaac exits and when Elizabeth turns, she sees Pauline for the first time.)
Oh! Where did you ever find that dress?
(Pauline shrinks back a little.)
I’m not scolding. It’s just that I’ve never seen it before. It’s . . . it’s . . . it’s beautiful!
James: (Outside.) Do you have a meal and a bed here, boy?
Isaac: (Outside.) Yes, sir. We keep a fine tavern. It’s a schilling-three pence a night.
Elizabeth: I’d like to help you Pauline; to be your friend. I know how confused you must feel.
(Pauline slowly glances at the storeroom door and back to Elizabeth. Finally she answers, softly.)
Pauline: I’ll help you.
(Elizabeth smiles warmly and quickly crosses to place Alexander in his cradle.)
James: (Outside.) And the horse?
Isaac: (Outside.) One schilling and a schilling half-penny for the oats, Sir.
(Elizabeth leads Pauline to the window.)
Elizabeth: See the house up the lane? It’s my house. My children are home. There is a stew on the fire. Would you . . .?
Pauline: Yes, mam.
(She starts for the door and then glances toward the storeroom momentarily.)
But . . .
Elizabeth: Anna should be there to help.
(James enters just as Pauline turns to exit. As she passes, he pats her backside, smiling.)
(He is tall, good looking, but has a distrustful appearance. Dressed in riding clothes, boots and spurs, he looks every bit the highwayman, which he is. He tosses a tri-corner hat on the peg as he enters.)
James: (Over his shoulder to Pauline.) Why not stay and entertain the guest?
(James crosses boldly to the table and sits before being asked. He gives Elizabeth a leering smile.)
I’m James . . . Mr. James. Can you make a flip?
Elizabeth: (Somewhat flustered.) Yes, sir. Right away, sir.
(She crosses to the cupboard and gets a large glass. Moving to the bench, she fills it first with rum, then with pumpkin beer and finally brown sugar, which she scoops from a sack.)
James: (Looking the room over as she works.) Heavy on the rum and pumpkin beer and light on the sugar. And heat the poker well.
Elizabeth: Yes, sir.
(She moves to the fireplace and puts the poker in.)
James: And how about some light in here?
(It is by now quite dusky.)
Are you so homely you’re afraid you’ll scare the customers away?
Elizabeth: Oh, no, sir . . . I mean . . . I don’t know, sir.
(She begins to light the candles with a taper. As she sets one in front of him, he stares at her, with a suggestive smile, holding her glance momentarily.)
Elizabeth: The poker . . . I must get the poker.
James: (Laughing.) You should hang a light from every wall, as pretty a face as you have.
(As she bends over to get the poker.)
. . and as pretty an ankle too!
Elizabeth: (Jumping up with poker in glass nearly spills it.) Sir!
James: No sermons. Just the liquor.
(She hands it to him stretching as far from him as she can.)
What’s a matter? Is your husband about?
Elizabeth: No. I mean, it’s not my tavern. It’s my husband’s parents. They’re about, but he’s not.
James: What’s in the pot?
(He takes a long drink of the flip.)
Elizabeth: It’s German. But it tastes like Brunswick stew. It’s very good, sir.
James: Dish it up.
(He takes another long drink.)
Where is your husband?
Elizabeth: (She moves to the cupboard and removes a pewter plate to serve him.) He’s in the war. He’s a lieutenant with Captain Aaron Hankinson’s first company. They’re guarding the upper Delaware River.
James: What about the old man who owns this place. Who is he?
Elizabeth: Casper Schaeffer? Surely you’ve heard of him. Everyone in the county knows . . .
James: Oh, I should have known. The rich old German miller.
(She dishes up the food and he begins to eat.)
Elizabeth: (Startled at his poor manners.) Sir, aren’t you going to ask our Lord’s blessing?
James: (Looking up, but not stopping.) We have a pact. I don’t ask His blessing and He doesn’t ask mine. Get me some cheese.
(She crosses hurriedly to the storeroom and enters it, closing the door behind. Hans Vas enters cautiously, from outside.)
Hans: (Knocking as he opens the door.) Mam? Miz Elizabeth? (He has a long coat on, which is too long for him, and wears a pair of boots, a little clumsily.)
James: What do you want, old man?
Hans: (Hat in hand.) I . . . I came for a little sup. Mrs. Schaeffer . . . she said . . .
James: (Turning back to his meal.) Get out of here . . . go eat in the stable.
Hans: Yes, sir.
(He turns to leave as Elizabeth emerges with a wedge of cheese.)
Elizabeth: (Seeing Hans.) May I help you, sir?
Hans: (Looking first to James.) I . . . I don’t know. Mrs. Schaeffer said I could take sup here, if’n I . . . and here . . . look!
(He digs down into his long coat pocket.)
I have some copper!
Elizabeth: Of course. Sit down. This is Mister James. He won’t mind. And you’re Hans Vas?
James: (Glares at him and snorts.) Feed him in the stable. He smells like a horse.
Elizabeth: Mr. James!
Hans: (Again turning to go.) Perhaps I’d best go . . .
James: (Continuing to eat.) Yeah, go.
Elizabeth: (Nervously asserting herself.) Mr. James, this is a public tavern and you can’t go around telling people just who can who can’t . . . it’s. . . it’s just not Christian!
James: (Rolling his eyes.) Deliver me from the wrath of a Christian woman.
Elizabeth: He has just as much right . . .
James: (To Hans.) Oh, sit. . . but down wind.
(Hans cautiously sits across from James, after carefully hanging his long coat on a peg.)
Elizabeth: (Relieved by her success.) Now, what can I get for you, Mr. Vas? A little stew and bread?
Hans: That would be fine, Mam. Just fine.
(As she dishes it up, he continues.)
Worked up a good appetite over at Mis Wintermute’s and ‘spect I will again tomorrow. I bartered that there fine long coat and these here boots.
Elizabeth: (As she serves him.) That’s very nice, Mr. Vas. They should certainly keep you good and warm.
(Hans bows his head for grace.)
James: (Shaking his head.) Imagine anyone working for a rag like that.
Elizabeth: (Ignoring James.) Mrs. Schaeffer said you had been up in the Wallpack area. My husband is up on the river, so I’m always anxious for news.
James: (Perking up noticeably.) So am I. What’s going on up there? Did you hear anything about General Pulaski?
Hans: (Straightening a little.) Saw him myself. He’s not too tall . . . about . . .
(He raises his hand to show.)
James: Is Pulaski staying up there? Have any more forces moved up?
Hans: Well, he didn’t tell me, but . . .
James: I know, you old fool, but what did you see?
Hans: (Becoming suspicious.) Why do you want to know?
(In the interim, Elizabeth has been moving about straightening up, including Alexander’s covers.)
James: (Immediately defensive.) Just curious, that’s all. I . . . I have some business, government business up that way. And I met Pulaski in Newton two weeks ago. He was advertising clemency for his deserters, if they would come back by the sixteenth. I was just curious if any of them did.
Hans: I don’t know. Things are pretty confused, with all the Hessians marching through and all.
James: They haven’t captured the escaped ones, have they?
Hans: I don’t know.
James: And you didn’t see any strangers on the way down here?
Hans: No. Next to no one was out and about.
James: (To Elizabeth.) And you haven’t seen anyone about?
Elizabeth: No. (She adds, half under her breath.) Only you.
James: (To Hans.) What else did you see up there?
(Isaac enters and crosses to the table.)
Isaac: What a horse, sir! I’ll bet he’s the fastest in the whole county!
James: (Motioning with a piece of bread for Isaac to be seated.) Maybe the fastest in the whole province, boy. Lord knows he’s been chased enough. But mind you, he’s never been caught.
Isaac: (Sitting.) Wow! Are you with the army? Maybe you know my brother . . . he’s with . . .
James: (Coolly.) . . . Hankinson, up on the river.
Isaac: (Eyes aglow.) You know him?
James: (Paying no heed to Elizabeth’s sharp glance.) It’s my business to know a lot of things.
Fix the boy a flip, and me another, too.
(Hans checks his pocket change and says nothing.)
Isaac: (Straightening up.) Yes, and heat the poker well.
Elizabeth: No hard liquor for you, or your father’d tar and feather us like a pair of Tories.
(James stiffens slightly at the remark.)
But I’ll fix you a cider if you like.
Would you like a drink, Mr. Vas. Or a flip, perhaps?
Hans: Well, maybe a little mug of cider.
(Elizabeth goes into the storeroom and returns with a jug.)
We had lots of rum up north, during the war. Taste of it always reminds me of when me and Rogers hisself was off scouting during the last war . . .
James: (Cuts him off and addresses Isaac.) Cider’s an old man’s drink.
(Elizabeth serves Hans and makes James a flip, as before.)
Isaac: (Not very convincingly.) Ours is good hard cider.
(James simply snorts.)
How’s the war going, sir?
James: Depends on what side you’re on, I suppose.
Isaac: But there’s only one true side.
Hans: That’s right.
Isaac: And now that the French are with us and Philadelphia is ours again and Gates has beaten Burgoyne up at Saratoga. . . well, I’m just worried the whole thing will be over and done before I can even get in. It’s December 1778. We’ve been free over two years now, and I haven’t even lifted a musket.
James: You don’t get free just by saying so, boy, you’ve got to win it. And that hasn’t happened yet. But I can see where it would be pretty frustrating, for you, seeing as the Tories outnumber the rebels two to one in this county.
(Casper enters as James is speaking, but is not noticed. He has his musket in his hand.)
Casper: That sounds like Tory talk to me, mister.
Continued to act Two, Part Two
Anna Schaeffer, Age eight and a half, Granddaughter of Casper and Catherine Schaeffer.Pays one point and 2 member cents.
Catherine Schaeffer, Age fifty-six, wife of Casper Schaeffer.
Hans Vas, An elderly Dutch villager.
Isaac Schaeffer, Age fifteen, Casper and Catherine's youngest son.
Elizabeth Schaeffer, Age thirty-one, daughter-in-law of Casper and Catherine Schaeffer. She is the mother of Anna.
Pauline, About age twenty, an indentured servant girl.
Casper Schaeffer, Age sixty-six. He is a miller, farmer, legislator and patriarch of the family.
Mr. James, A traveler.
Peter Gruber, an escaped Hessian prisoner of war
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